The new academic year is among us, it can be unsettling for most going into a new school, but it is especially unnerving for young people with autism with big changes and unfamiliar routines. However, there are a few simple things you can do to help these students.
First, get to know them. Every single person has different needs, so it is vital that you know every aspect of that individual including studying their health care plan. Every school has a Sendco, utilise them whenever you can; ask questions!
Consider your classroom
Secondly, environment. New settings can increase anxiety in some, could you invite the student/s in before the school starts so they know exactly what they are walking in to? Providing key information about staff, possibly including pictures of who the student/s will be working with could be very helpful. Consider the classroom your students will be working in; harsh lighting? Too much noise outside? Perhaps moving the children to a more comfortable part of the classroom could help.
Thirdly, if possible; keep timetable changes to a minimum as consistency and routine are key. If something unexpected happens, give the student/s as much notice as possible to minimise anxiety. Could the student have a dedicated person in the school that they can always turn to and speak with?
Lastly and most importantly, as an educator; increase your understanding of autism. Young people with autism can sometimes face loneliness, isolation and in some cases; bullying. Understanding autism can help tackle and prevent these from happening.